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Dissipation and other fraudulent pre-divorce activities

There could be several reasons for your decision to end your marriage. Perhaps the issue of trust is one of them.

You may have found that your spouse lied to you on several occasions. For example, although he says otherwise, you believe that he has been depleting marital assets without your consent. In a divorce situation, this is known as dissipation.

Dissipating assets

Dissipation is a form of financial fraud that is specific to divorce. It means that one party hides or depletes assets so that the other party cannot benefit from them during the property division phase of the divorce proceeding. There are many ways to do this:

  • Spending excessively, including money that goes toward hobbies
  • Spending money on an extramarital relationship
  • Allowing foreclosure on the marital home
  • Selling valuable possessions for less than they are worth
  • Transferring cash to friends or relatives for them to keep until the divorce is over

Warning signs

Dissipation is one form of fraud, but there are others. If your spouse works for a company, he could arrange for deferred stock options, bonuses or compensation plans so he would not have to share the proceeds with you. If he owns his own business, it is easy for him to hide income as well as assets. You might have noticed certain changes in his behavior: furtively spending more time on the computer, rerouting mail from home to office, or making unusual cash withdrawals from bank accounts.

Calling in professionals

You can hire professional investigators known as forensic accountants to determine what is going on. They will be able to locate and examine online accounts, investment vehicles, unfunded trusts, shell corporations, life insurance policies and other potential hiding places for funds he may have secreted away.

Following up on the trust issue

An investigation into marital finances and the possibility of dissipation is a good idea, especially if your spouse is self-employed or your list of assets has grown considerably over the years. Once upon a time, the person you married may have been trustworthy, but you might have made a mistake in believing he still is.